Tuesday, March 20, 2018

NAP soon to own its building

The House of Representatives has adopted House Resolution No. 1722 urging President Rodrigo Duterte to issue a proclamation which would transfer the ownership and administration of the Intendencia Building in Intramuros, Manila to the National Archives of the Philippines (NAP).

The signing of such presidential proclamation would allow the NAP, the repository of documentary records of Filipino culture, history and governance, to have a place of its own.

The NAP has been housed at the Intendencia Building for the past 18 years but it does not own the edifice. 

The resolution states that the NAP is the only national archive in Southeast Asia that does not have a place of its own. This leaves about 18.8 million pages of Philippine cultural treasure in the NAP’s possession in danger of total decay and damage.

 The NAP was created under Republic Act No. 9470, which mandates the State to pursue, conserve and promote Filipino cultural heritage and resources including the documentary records of Filipino culture, history and governance. It is also primary responsible for the strengthening of existing system of management and administration of government archival records and ensure the accessibility of public records that are relevant to the promotion and preservation of Philippine cultural heritage.

 During the past administrations, the government recognized the NAP’s stay at the Intendencia Building. The proofs of recognition are stated in several Letters of Instruction (LOIs) and Memoranda, directing the restoration of the building and the approval of NAP’s request to acquire and use the Intendencia Building.

However, the Intramuros Administration (IA) claimed authority over the Intendencia Building in spite of several memoranda between the NAP and IA which granted authority to the NAP as the building’s legal custodian and allowed the joint undertaking for the restoration and reconstruction of the structure.

The government even allocated P12 million for NAP’s restoration of Intendencia Building under the 2013 General Appropriations Act. The reconstruction was completed in 2014 with the assistance of the IA.

To completely restore and reconstruct the building, the government allocated an additional P479 million through the NAP in 2015, but the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) withheld the release of the funds due to conflicting claims of ownership of the Intendencia Building by the NAP and IA.

The Office of the Chief Legal Counsel (OCPLC) issued a legal opinion on Sept. 6, 2016 favoring the IA as the building owner. But the OCPLC retracted its legal opinion after the NAP submitted a Motion for Reconsideration.

The NAP has in its possession the largest collection in the country of authentic and priceless records dating back to the Spanish Colonial Period, which are critical to the Philippines’ Hispano-American heritage. These were declared as National Cultural Treasure in 2015.

The resolution states that due to the exigency of the matter and in view of national interest and the importance of preserving the voluminous collections of archival records relating to Philippine history and heritage, it is deemed appropriate that the NAP be provided with a permanent and secure office space. (JA Menorca)


NEWS Releas
18 March 2018

House pushes for CE curriculum review

The House of Representatives has adopted House Resolution 1767, urging the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to conduct the mandatory review of the Civil Engineering curriculum to integrate relevant academic subjects on earthquake design safety which will help ensure the structural integrity of Philippine building and civil works.

The resolution also directs the House committee on higher and technical education to conduct an inquiry into the appropriateness and relevance of the Civil Engineering curriculum in offering a long-term response to the threats of earthquake and seismic magnitudes greater than intensity 7 on the Richter scale.     

The resolution acknowledged the spate of recent strong earthquakes that hit many parts of the world in series, which include Haiti, New Zealand, Japan and areas within the Pacific Ring of fire, raising the fear of a looming earthquake far beyond intensity 7.

The current factor of safety for building designs is pegged to withstand a 7.2 magnitude only.

The resolution states that relevant engineering interventions should now be put in place to ensure the structural integrity of existing structures to enable them to withstand strong earthquakes.

The strict compliance and integration of the National Structural Code of the Philippines 2010 (NSCP), and the National Building Code of the Philippines (NBCP) in the Civil Engineering curriculum should be enforced, the resolution further states.

The Philippine Regulatory Commission (PRC) should include Earthquake Engineering Design as a topic in the Civil Engineering Licensure Examination, it states.

The preferential importance should be given to the integration of earthquake engineering design in the Civil Engineering curriculum as a major course and not merely as an elective.

The aptitude of Civil Engineering graduates in earthquake engineering design must be duly measured through the licensure examination conducted for engineering professionals by the PRC to ensure that the quality of Filipino Civil Engineers and the integrity of the buildings and structures they design and build are beyond reproach, the resolution states. (E. Galvez)


Rep Siao pushes CHEd to upgrade higher education finance
Facebook: /congressmansiao Twitter: @freddiesiao ‎0917-729-2437 

As CHED embarks on fully implementing the free college education in SUCs law, I now ask CHED OIC Prospero de Vera and his fellow Commissioners, to consider and study:

(1)        the establishment of a higher education version of the current DepEd senior high school voucher system; and
(2)        create a CHED Learner Information System that would dovetail with the LIS of DepEd;

(3)        the issuance of Education Bonds to finance the multi-year infrastructure and service facilities upgrading of the SUCs, especially those with very old and obsolete structures.

Electronic Student Vouchers

The CHED knows the SUCs have limited admission capacity. SUCs cannot accept all students who apply for slots because there are a finite slots, so to still be able to give other Filipino youths access to free or at least significantly state-subsidized education, a higher education voucher system like that of the DepEd for SHS is the best option we have so far.

We could use the same voucher system and processes the DepEd uses or we can build a similar or even better system which colleges and universities can have access to.

There are already precedents for a voucher system for higher education: the GASTPE and the ESC. ESC is Education Service Contracting system and the GASTPE is the Government Assistance to Private Education. But these are old systems which would need updating, so CHED must update, upgrade, or overhaul as needed. I suppose a law is needed to make this happen, so I expect CHED to send to us a draft bill.


The CHED LIS is needed now that we have the PQF or Philippine Qualifications Framework. Extending the DepEd LIS to the CHED and TESDA is logical progression given that the PQF is in place. That LIS is the database we need for the PQF.

A key element of the DepEd LIS is the LRN or learner reference number, which is simply put, the student number of every student in the basic education system. I believe those students should carry that same reference number when they move on to technical schools, colleges, and universities. That LRN can be attached to the student number the tertiary schools give to their students. This way, the CHED LIS can keep track of all students. This is needed for the PQF.

The challenge now to the CHED is to extend that LIS and the LRNs to the higher education system. I assume this will need a budget, so I expect CHED to submit a multi-year budget for this. The CHED can also seek foreign grants for it, to lessen the load on the future years’ GAA.

Education Bonds

Lastly, many of our SUCs have very old buildings and other facilities. The need is so great but most budget requests from SUCs for capital outlays are not included in the GAA because the GAA cannot support those requests. The appropriate solution is the issuance of Education Bonds.

This idea is not new, but I am reiterating it because it has become absolutely necessary. The SUCs cannot be left behind while the Duterte administration implements its Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.

We must modernize the facilities of our SUCs so that we can generate even deeper economic development, particularly in the countryside.

On the Education Bonds, the CHED must work with the Department of Finance, which is in-charge of all matters on the issuance of government bonds. This coordination should happen soon. I suggest the convening of a SUCS Capital Outlays Summit where we can work on the major details of the proposal to be submitted to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez. (END)

News Release
19 March 2018

House panel OKs impeachment vs. Sereno

VOTING 33-1, the House Committee on Justice today approved its 45-page committee report finding probable cause to impeach Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.

The committee likewise approved the accompanying 56-page Articles of Impeachment, detailing the charges against her that would be elevated to the Senate for trial.

The lone dissenter is Quezon City Rep. Christopher Belmonte.

“We have made history here in defining the impeachment process in the HOR (House of Representatives),” said committee chair, Rep. Reynaldo Umali.

Umali said the six articles of impeachment that the committee has prepared “will be the foundation in prosecuting this impeachment case before the Senate, as an impeachment court.”

The first article of impeachment charges Sereno for culpable violation of the constitution and betrayal of public trust for non-filing and non-disclosure of her Sworn Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.

Sereno, according to the committee, misled the Judicial and Bar Council in 2010 when she claimed it is not possible to retrieve her SALNs from 1996 to 2006. She is also accused of failing to declare in her  11 SALN 2.24 hectares of land in Mariveles, Bataan, registered under her and her husband’s name, worth around P44 million.

Likewise, the panel said Sereno failed to declare in her 2006 and 2009 SALNs the amount of P13.8 million which is part of the more than P32 million she earned from the PIATCO cases. Moreover, the committee said Sereno failed to file her SALN 17 times: for 1987 to 1997, for 1999 to 2001, and 2003 to 2005.

The committee also charged Sereno for tax fraud.

In the second article, Sereno was charged for corruption and betrayal of public trust for misusing a total of P18 million in public funds in the purchase of a brand-new Toyota Land Cruiser, hiring of IT consultant for a fee of over P11 million, and using Shangrila Boracay for the meeting of ASEAN chief justices.

Under the third article, Sereno was accused of arrogating the collegial power of the Supreme Court en banc by issuing resolutions and order without the approval of the body, or contrary to what was agreed by the en banc.

In the fourth article, Sereno was charged for deliberately and maliciously abusing her position as Chief Justice and ex officio chairperson of the Judicial and Bar Council through efforts to exclude then Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza from the short list of nominees to the vacant SC post, among others.

The fifth article accuses Sereno of deliberately undermining and violating the principle of separation of powers among the three branches of government when, among others, she interfered in the investigation of the House on the misuse of tobacco excise tax funds by the Ilocos Norte government by asking Court of Appeals justices to challenge the House order by elevating the issue before the SC.

Lastly, the panel charged Sereno for betrayal of public trust by wilfully and deliberately failing to comply with her oath of office and by tyrannical abuse of discretionary power.

Umali also noted that based on the expert opinion of Dr. Geraldine Tria, who reviewed Sereno’s psychiatric evaluation,  that she displayed the following 5 out of 9 symptoms of mental disturbance: interpersonally exploitative; preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power and brilliance; lacks empathy; has sense of entitlement, and a grandiose sense of self-importance.

Umali noted that the judiciary is divided, noting the unprecedented move of the SC en banc to force Sereno to go on an indefinite leave.

“The situation of our Supreme Court today and the judiciary is turning from bad to worse,” Umali said, pointing out that several organizations within the judiciary have joined the demand for Sereno’s resignation.

“This clearly shows the divided judiciary that would only escalate if the leadership in the third branch of government continues to be dysfunctional,” Umali said.

The approved committee report and the accompanying Articles of Impeachment will be sent to the Committee on Rules which will then decide, within 10 session days, when to calendar the matter for plenary deliberation.

Once in the matter is in the plenary, the House has 60 session days to finally vote on whether or not to send Sereno’s impeachment to the Senate for trial. ####


News Release
19 March 2018

House redefines kids’ TV council

The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading House Bill 7290, which seeks to amend the composition of the Advisory Committee of the National Council for Children’s Television to ensure the NCCT gets only proper and accurate advice from concerned agencies in the formulation of national policies pertaining to children’s television programs and broadcasts.

All 228 House Members present during the voting supported the passage of the bill.

The bill seeks to amend Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8370, also known as the “Children’s Television Act of 1997”, so that there shall be created an Advisory Committee whose function is to assist the NCCT in crafting national policies pertaining to children’s broadcast programs and in monitoring their implementation.

The members of the Advisory Committee shall be the Executive Director of the Council for the Welfare of Children; Head of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Committee on Cultural Education and Information; President of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas; President or Executive Director of the Philippine Association of National Advertisers; Director-General of the Philippine Information Agency; Chairman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board; a representative from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) Regulation Branch; and a representative from the National Youth Commission.

The present members of the Advisory Committee as provided by RA 8370 are the Executive Director of the Council for the Welfare of Children; Chairman or Executive Director of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts; President of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas; President or Executive Director of the Philippine Association of National Advertisers; Press Undersecretary/Officer-In- Charge of the Philippine Information Agency; Chairman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board; and a representative from the National Telecommunications Commission.

The House committee said the important role of the Advisory Committee is to assist the NCCT in guaranteeing that quality television programs are offered to Filipino children for their empowerment and holistic development. the committee further said that various studies and researches reflect the negative effects of unpleasant TV programs on children such that they could not discriminate between what they see and what is real: violence and aggressive behaviour; sexuality; academic performance; body, concept and self-image; nutrition, dieting and obesity; and substance use and abuse patterns. (WBundang)



REF. TO: ERIC CHAM ‎09178323299

BUHAY Partylist Representative and Senior Deputy Minority Leader Lito Atienza welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s stand against the passage of the Divorce Law.

“We welcome and fully appreciate President Duterte’s stand against the divorce law. The President has saved the Filipino family with his strong position against divorce, which has been passed on second reading in the Lower House.  We strongly agree with the President that divorce would be very detrimental to mothers and children,” Atienza said in reaction to the statement of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque that the President is against the proposed Divorce Law.

Atienza had earlier expressed his strong opposition to House Bill 7303 during plenary deliberations.

“Through ayes and nays, I, together with a miniscule number of lawmakers voiced our opposition to the bill but our collective voices were ultimately drowned out by the majority of Congressmen for the passage of the bill on second reading,” Atienza added.

“We admire the President’s display of strength and character.  He did not allow himself to be stampeded by the mob on this critical issue.  His strong leadership will forever be remembered for saving the Filipino family and future generations.  I am sure that with his strong position against divorce, this bill will most likely be relegated to the archives,” Atienza stressed.

NEWS Release
19 March 2018

Six Charges in Articles of Impeachment based on strong evidence

The Articles of Impeachment against Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, which were approved today by the House committee on justice, contain six charges that are backed by strong evidence.

“The six articles are anchored on strong evidence, documentary, and testimonial that will stand trial,” said committee chairman Rep. Reynaldo Umali during the hearing on Monday.

Umali enjoined committee members to consider the present state of the judiciary, saying the situation “is turning from bad to worse.”

In the past week, multiple organizations in the judiciary such as the Philippine Judges Association (PJA) the Supreme Court Assembly of Lawyer Employees (SCALE), Philippine Association of Court Employees (PACE), Supreme Court Employees Association and Sandiganbayan Employees Association expressed their desire for the Chief Magistrate to step down from office.

“This clearly shows the divided judiciary that would only escalate if the leadership in the third branch of government continues to be dysfunctional,” Umali said.

With a vote of 33-1, the committee approved the committee report and Articles of Impeachment against Sereno.

The committee report and Articles of Impeachment shall be submitted to the House plenary for deliberation and approval. If it earns one-third votes of all the representatives, the impeachment complaint shall be transmitted to the Senate, which shall convene as an impeachment court.

 “Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has failed to live up to the standards imposed by the Constitution and the Supreme Court upon members of the judiciary. She has, by her own acts, caused the diminution of public faith in the Judiciary,” the Articles of Impeachment stated.

The first article charges Sereno of non-filing and non-disclosure of Sworn Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) constituting the impeachable grounds of culpable violation of the Constitution and/or betrayal of public trust.

The second article charges the Chief Justice of committing corruption and betrayal of public trust over the misuse of a total amount of ₱18 million of public funds.

This covers the chief magistrate’s procurement and purchase of a Toyota Land Cruiser worth over P5 million, violation of the procurement law, causing the hiring and engagement of a costly IT consultant, and misuse of roughly P3 million of government funds in the selection of Shangri-La Boracay for the 3rd ASEAN Chief Justices Meeting and subsequent arrangement for a room upgrade.

Umali said this manifested Sereno’s “grandiose sense of self-importance.”
The third article charges Sereno of committing culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust and/or other high crimes when she arrogated unto herself the powers reposed upon the Supreme Court en banc as a collegial, deliberative and consultative body.

This pertains to Sereno issuing and causing to be issued resolutions and orders without the approval of, or contrary to what was agreed upon by the en banc, through acts of misrepresentation and manipulation, showing a pattern of deception.

The fourth article alleges Sereno committed culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust and/or other high crimes when she abused her position as the Chief Justice and ex-officio chairperson of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).

The fifth article charges her with culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust by undermining and violating the principles of separation of powers among the three branches of government.

Specifically, Sereno is alleged to have interfered with the House probe on the misuse of tobacco funds in Ilocos Norte by issuing a joint statement asking the House to reconsider its show cause order against three SC associate justices, as well as directing the justices to question any order issued by the House. It further notes that Sereno undermined and disrespected the impeachment proceedings against her.

The sixth and last article charges the Chief Justice with betrayal of public trust for failing to comply with her oath of office by tyrannical abuse of discretionary power.

Among the committee members present during the vote, only Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte voted against.

Deputy Speakers Gwendolyn Garcia, Sharon Garin, Mylene Garcia-Albano, Frederick Abueg, Fredenil Castro, Raneo Abu, and Ferdinand Hernandez led the lawmakers in approving the committee report and the Articles of Impeachment.  Reps. Eugene De Vera, Vincent Crisologo, Deogracias Victor Savellano, Doy Leachon, Henry Oaminal, Vicente Veloso, and Juan Pablo Bondoc, among others, also voted in favor. (CMB Engracia)


NEWS Release
19 March 2018

House processed 15 measures per session day

THE House of Representatives has processed a total of 2,673 measures or an average of 15 measures per session day since the 17th Congress opened on July 25, 2016.

In a press briefing today, Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu said since the House began its sessions for 2018  last January 15, the chamber approved on third and final reading a total of 25 bills which include several measures of national importance.

Among the approved measures are House Bill No. 690, seeking to strengthen the security of tenure of workers; HB 6689, seeking to grant full insurance coverage to all qualified CARP beneficiaries; and HB 6834, seeking to strengthen the right of people to free expression and to peaceably assemble, among others.

Abu gave a report on the accomplishments of the House during the bi-monthly press briefing. He said lawmakers are expected to pass on third and final reading three more important bills of national importance before Congress adjourns on March 23. These are HB 7185, seeking to recognize Foreign Decree of Termination of Marriage; HB 7303, seeking to institute Absolute Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage; and HB 7378, seeking to reset the May 14, 2018 synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections to the second Monday of October 2018.

So far, the House has approved 653 measures, 60 of which are already enacted into law, including 22 measures of national importance. The House also approved 392 measures on third and final reading; 10 measures on second reading; and adopted 144 resolutions and reports on motu proprio inquiry.

Meanwhile, Rep. Johnny Pimentel, chairman of the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, reported that his committee has been actively investigating several issues of alleged irregularities in the government.

These controversies include the P3.5-billion Dengvaxia program, the P9.3-billion project for barangay health stations, the alleged misuse of Philhealth funds for senior citizens, the P294-million share of the Ilocos Norte provincial government from tobacco taxes, and the questionable land deal between the Tagum Agricultural Development Co., Inc. (Tadeco) and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), which is allegedly grossly disadvantageous to the government.
Rep. Wilter Wee Palma II, chairman of the subcommittee on the draft BBL, said the Committees on Local Government and Muslim Affairs as well as the  Special Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity have already completed 18 committee meetings and held 11 public hearings in Cotabato City; Midsayap in North Cotabato; Davao City; Sulu; Basilan; Tawi-Tawi; Zamboanga City; Buluan in Maguindanao; Koronadal City; Tubod in Lanao del Norte; and Marawi City.

He said the panels are already in the final stage of finalizing the substitute bill which will amend the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. It will be ready for plenary approval before the end of May.

Lastly, House Justice Committee Chairman Reynaldo Umali reported that the plenary is now ready to approve the committee report which found probable cause to impeach Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and its accompanying Articles of Impeachment. Both were approved by the justice committee on Monday by a vote of 33-1.

He said that the plenary will finally vote on the impeachment case when Congress resumes after the Lenten break. (JA Menorca)


Photo Release
20 March 2018

SUBPOENA FOR IMEE, ET AL--The House committee on good government and public accountability chaired by Rep. Johnny Pimentel on Monday approved the issuance of a subpoena ad testificandum for Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos and six officials of the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) to show up in its next hearing slated on May 21, 2018. The hearing is based on House Resolution 1126, directing the committee to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the utilization of the tobacco excise tax and determine the tangible benefits acquired by tobacco farmers in Ilocos Norte. It was filed by Reps.  Carlos Isagani Zarate, Emmi de Jesus, Antonio Tinio, Arlene Brosas, France Castro and Sarah Jane Elago of the Makabayan bloc. (P. Camero/E. Galvez/W. Bundang)


Office of Rep. Arthur C. Yap
3rd District of Bohol
Tel No. 9315426
March 20, 2018
Email : kathyrin425@gmail.com

House Committee on Trade tackles bill Further Liberalizing Retail Sector

"We must strike down restrictive laws which impede foreign investments. The Philippines allowed foreigners to engage in retail trade in the year 2000 and yet, the Philippines is lagging behind retail trade investments in ASEAN consistently in the last 17 years. Clearly, the law's intention of inviting retail trade investors, creating jobs and making goods more price and quality competitive has not been realized," explained by House Commitee Chairman of Economic Affairs Rep. Arthur C. Yap of the 3rd District of Bohol in his sponsorship speech of House Bill 4595 during the initial deliberation of the bill by the House Committee on Trade and Industry.

Said measure primarily seeks to amend restrictive provisions of The Retail Trade Liberalization Act of 2000 (Republic Act No. 8762) and eliminating the capital and equity requirement of foreign investors who are willing to engage in the retail business in the Philippines.

R.A. 8762 requires a paid-up capital of at least USD2.5 million and a minimum investment of USD830,000 per store for it to be 100% foreign owned. In the case of fully owned companies specialized in high end or luxury goods, the minimum paid-up capital is USD250,000 per store.

Additionally, the law sets out other conditions to be met by foreign investors regarding divestiture requirements, the minimum net worth and number of branches of the parent corporation, a proven 5 year track record in retailing and the existence of reciprocity agreements with the country where the corporation is from, allowing the entry of Filipino retailers. 

"Innovation and technology is disrupting the economy. We must invite companies that have something new to offer, that are imaginative and out of the box in product offerings to come and set up shop in the Philippines. This will make the Philippines more attractive to tourists and offer Philippine consumers better priced quality goods," according to Yap.

"It must tell us something that in this morning's hearing, the DTI, BOI and the PCC, together with the joint foreign chambers are all on the same page stating that Philippine retail laws are too restrictive and impede the growth of the economy, and left unchanged, work against the interests of millions of Philippine consumers," Yap added.

DTI Undersectary Ruth Castelo said that the department supports the intent of the bill to improve the country’s investment climate by further easing restrictions that hinder growth of foreign investments, specifically inflows in the retail trade industry. However, DTI suggests that instead of totally removing the existing minimum paid-up capital of US$2,500,000.00, the minimum paid up capital requirement should just be lowered to US $200,000.00

“While we (DTI) want to encourage foreign investments in the retail industry, there is also a need to protect our domestic retail sector. Unlike large local retails that have the capacity to withstand competition from foreign companies, small domestic retailers may find it difficult to compete in a fully liberalized market,” stated Castelo.

DTI also suggested that the proposed bill consider the rise of the use of internet as a newfound avenue for retailing and include in its contemplation the growth and promotion of online retail trade.

Laban Consumer Inc., represented by Atty. Vic Torino Dimagiba, also supports further liberalization of retail trade and reasoned that no wholly owned Filipino retailers is prejudiced by the bill. “According to Forbes magazine recent data, there are 12 Filipino families that own at least one-fifth of the country’s wealth. Most of these Filipino retailers core businesses are in the retail industry. Except for 7-11, most foreign retailers that invested in the country were bought out of the market by the mega rich Filipino retailers,” noted Dimagiba.

The hearing was also attended by the members of the Joint Foreign Chambers, represented by John Forbes of the American Chamber and Julian Payne of the Canadian Chamber. In their Joint Statement, JFC noted that “the entry of more foreign retail investors into the sector will create jobs at every stage of the retail process and, indirectly, in those who service the retail sector. One new retail job is not just the sales clerk or the cashier that the customer sees in the store. These are the tip of the retail iceberg, the hidden part of which includes jobs in advertising, agriculture, construction, design, logistics, media, telecommunications, and wholesale retail, among others. In other words, investment in retail cascades through the economy. Retail trade sector reform will support the more rapid growth of the tourism sector, which is a major priority of the government. Many foreign tourists travel to shop, for example to Bangkok, Hong Kong or Singapore. This is especially true of the growing number of Chinese tourists, who go as far as Paris and London. Famous brand names and famous department stores operating in major cities attract foreign shoppers on Orchard Road in Singapore or Nathan Road in Shanghai. Why not also in Makati, Cebu, Clark, and Davao?”

Chris Nelson, the Chairman of the British Chamber, in his statement said that British firms have a strong interest in the retail sector. “The British Chamber, since 2014, has assisted over 1,700 UK companies keen to establish footprint in the Philippines. The UK is the largest European investor in the Philippines and our trade relations are strong and growing. The liberalization of the sector and the resulting elimination of barriers to market access for foreign retailers will have a positive spillover effect on the economy, creating more jobs, increasing competition, providing Filipino consumers with more choices,” Nelson explained.

John Forbes of the American Chamber also observed that, “Our ASEAN neighbors, by being more welcoming to foreign investment in retailing, did more to create jobs for their citizens in their countries. Meanwhile, the Philippines, a country that continues to send large numbers of workers abroad because they cannot find jobs at home, because of a flawed law failed to receive similar benefits from foreign investment in retail. We commend the Duterte Administration for seeking to open the retail sector to more foreign investment, which potentially will create more jobs for Filipinos at home.”

Photo Release
20 March 2018

WORKING STUDENTS IN FOCUS: The House committee on labor and employment began on Tuesday its inquiry into the conditions of working students hired on part-time employment. The inquiry is based on House Resolution 432 filed by committee chairman Rep. Randolp Ting. The inquiry will determine how the government can protect working students hired as part-time employees and ensure they are adequately supported to help them cope with the pressures of balancing work and school. Among those present during the hearing were Reps. Mark Go, Tom Villarin, France Castro, Sarah Elago, Ma. Theresa Collantes, Peter Unabia, and Vicente S.E. Veloso. Undersecretary Jacinto Paras, Assistant Secretary Federico Abuan, Jr. and Director Monique Tutay of the Department of Labor and Employment.(DOLE), Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Vice President Arthur Juego, and Regie Dalisay of the Alliance of Progressive Youth (APY) were among the resource persons present during the hearing. (W Bundang/G Engay)


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Instituting Absolute Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage

Rep. Robert Ace S. Barbers
2nd District, Surigao del Norte
Chairman, Committee on Dangerous Drugs


            Robert Ace Barbers, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Dangerous Drugs today condemned the initial exoneration by the DOJ Panel of Prosecutors of confessed drug personality Kerwin Espinosa and alleged druglords Peter Go Lim, Peter Co, and other personalities accused of violating the Dangerous Drugs Act.

            Barbers pointed out that Kerwin Espinosa has openly and voluntarily admitted under oath before the Senate investigation in August 2017, that he is indeed involved in illegal drug trafficking in Regions 7 and 8.

            Espinosa further admitted that Peter Go Lim is one of his suppliers of illegal drugs.

            The PNP earlier filed the case against the accused using the affidavit of Marcelo Adorco, Espinosa’s driver bodyguard as the basis for filing the case. 

The DOJ panel however dismissed the cases stating that Adorco’s testimony alone was insufficient, being uncorroborated by another witness.

 “How can the DOJ panel say that the testimony of the driver bodyguard of Espinosa is uncorroborated when Espinosa himself validated such testimony in his own admission before the Senate investigation”, Barbers asked.

"Is the DOJ panel blind, deaf or dumb?  Did they not see not hear the testimony and admission that Kerwin Espinosa made before the Senate investigation?  They could have taken notice of that admission and considered it part of the evidence before deciding the case against Espinosa and Lim”, Barbers said.

“All that the DOJ Panel is tasked to find out is the presence of probable cause, not sufficiency of evidence.  Probable cause in lay man’s terms is 'something that may lead a reasonable man to believe that indeed a crime is probably committed'. But instead of doing just that, the panel arrogated upon itself the functions of the court, that is evaluating the sufficiency of evidence”, Barbers said.

            “Instead of probable cause, the panel decision raised a mysterious million dollar question, what is the probable cost of the dismissal? ”, Barbers added. 

            Barbers likewise said he observed that lately, there seems to be a trend by the DOJ in dismissing drug cases due to alleged insufficiency of evidence, which he finds very alarming, just like in the case of former Customs Commissioner Faeldon, the liability of whom was so glaring yet was cleared by the DOJ.    

            “The ultimate casualty here is the President’s war on drugs.  It is a big blow to the credibility of the President’s list of narco personalities.  If the DOJ wants to cast a shadow of doubt on the President’s list, then it is succeeding, to the delight of the narco personalities mentioned therein,” Barbers said.

Congressman LITO ATIENZA
BUHAY Party-list

March 14, 2018

            Senior Deputy Minority Leader and BUHAY Party-list Representative Lito Atienza yesterday roundly criticized the proposed law House Bill 7303 or An Act Instituting Absolute Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage in the Philippines.

            This proposed law is definitely unconstitutional!  It is expressly stated in Article XV on  The Family, Section 2, that ‘Marriage, as an inviolable social institution,  is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State.’

The Constitution is very clear and there is no room for misinterpretation. So how can Congressman Edcel Lagman interpret their proposed law as constitutional?

            Every definition that can be found on the word inviolable states that it is unassailable, cannot be broken, cannot be interchanged, and anything inviolable is considered hallowed, holy, sacred, sacrosanct and untouchable.

            Ano ba ang definition nila ng inviolability? This is precisely why I did not interpellate regarding the other provisions and sections of the proposed law – because the whole law is unconstitutional and Congress should not be tackling this at all! This cannot be considered as part of the law of the land.
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